Posts Tagged ‘Americans With Disabilities Act’

$100K Payment Frees Oil Co. From ADA Lawsuit

A six-figure settlement was needed by this  employer to emerge from a employment discrimination lawsuit without going to trial or admitting fault.

Murphy Oil USA, Inc., which operates Murphy USA retail gasoline stores typically located in Walmart parking lots in over 20 states, will pay a former store manager $100,000 to settle a disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced Aug. 13.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, Murphy Oil required a 10-year employee with a serious back impairment to perform duties that violated work restrictions imposed by his treating physician. The EEOC’s suit also claims that the company fired the employee in retaliation for complaining to management about the failure to accommodate his medical restrictions.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation unless it would cause a significant expense or difficulty to the employer. Retaliation against an employee for raising or reporting discrimination to supervisors also violates the ADA. The ADA also protects individuals from coercion, intimidation, threat, harassment, or interference in their exercise of their own rights or their encouragement of someone else’s exercise of rights granted by the ADA.

The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No. 2:16-CV-00048-AM-CW, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Del Rio Division, after the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the agency’s conciliation process.

As part of the two-year consent decree resolving the suit, Murphy Oil USA will pay $100,000 to its former employee. Murphy Oil USA also agreed to implement written policies to achieve compliance with the ADA; provide training regarding the ADA; and post a notice referencing the consent decree.

“This employee had been relied upon by the company to manage and train others for years,” said David Rivela, senior trial attorney in the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office. “The failure to make adjustments that would take into account the manager’s physical impairment resulted in the company’s loss of a solid employee. Employers should engage in an effective interactive process and not respond with a termination when an employee requests a reasonable accommodation.”

EEOC Investigator Minerva Melendreras added, “We are pleased that Murphy Oil and the EEOC were able resolve this case by entering into this consent decree, providing monetary relief to the former employee, agreeing to ADA training and implementing policies that will help protect employees from discrimination.”

The San Antonio Field Office is part of the EEOC’s Dallas District Office which is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Texas and parts of New Mexico.

Calif. Staffing Agency, NY Company Run Headlong Into EEOC Over Possible ADA Violation

This staffing agency and employer from opposite coasts are in trouble with the EEOC over their treatment of a temporary employee with a kidney condition.

Remedy Intelligent Staffing, LLC (Remedy), a California-based staffing firm, and Lornamead, Inc. (Lornamead), a manufacturer headquartered in New York City, violated federal law when they refused to provide reasonable accommodation to a long- term temporary employee that would have enabled him to continue to work after his kidney condition worsened and instead terminated his employment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed August 1.

According to the EEOC’s suit, David Gaiser II was hired by Remedy and assigned to work as a general laborer at Lornamead, Inc.’s Tonawanda, New York facility in June 2013. During his employment, Gaiser was diagnosed with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, a chronic condition characterized by the growth of multiple cysts in the kidneys. In June 2016, Gaiser was assigned to run a machine that required continual bending and twisting, which aggravated his kidney condition and caused him severe pain. Gaiser asked for a chair to minimize his bending and twisting, but Lornamead refused.

Gaiser then provided Remedy with a note from his doctor explaining that repeated bending and twisting could exacerbate Gaiser’s kidney condition and recommending he refrain from extreme bending, twisting, or lifting, which could predispose him to a cyst rupture. Gaiser suggested several accommodations that could enable him to perform his job duties, including allowing him to sit while operating manual machines, assigning him to a different machine, or assigning him to one of the assembly lines. Instead, Lornamead directed Remedy to end Gaiser’s three-year assignment at Lornamead. Remedy failed to place Gaiser at another job with a different client.

This alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Lornamead, Inc. and Remedy Intelligent Staffing, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv- 00841) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, Buffalo Division, after first attempting a pre-litigation settlement through the EEOC’s conciliation process. The suit seeks back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for Gaiser, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent future discrimination.

“Employers have a legal duty to provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office. “As joint employers, Remedy and Lornamead both failed to comply with their obligations under the law, and unnecessarily deprived the employee of a job he enjoyed and performed successfully for three years.”

Kevin Berry, district director of the New York Office, said, “The ADA requires a two- way interactive process between the employer and the employee. Remedy and Lornamead rejected the options proposed by the employee and failed to offer any alternatives that would have allowed him to keep his job. Firing someone who needs an accommodation due to a disability is against the law and the EEOC will hold employers accountable.”

According to company information, Remedy is the franchise division of Employbridge, one of the largest staffing firms in the world with over 490 locations. Lornamead, part of the Li and Fung group, manufactures and distributes hair care, skin care, oral care, and bath products to retailers throughout North America.

The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The Buffalo Local Office conducted the investigation resulting in this lawsuit.

Court: Underpaying Disabled Drivers Illegal

You can’t discriminate against persons with disabilities, even if the action conforms to the terms of a union contract.

A federal judge in the U.S. District Court for District of Kansas ruled on July 27, 2018, that UPS Freight violated federal law by having a policy, contained in its current union contract with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, of paying disabled drivers only ninety percent of what nondisabled drivers earn when they temporarily move to non-driving jobs, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced  July 30.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit in August 2017 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. UPS Ground Freight, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-02453) to obtain relief for Mr. Thomas Diebold. Mr. Diebold worked for UPS Freight from 2006 to 2015 as a driver at its Service Center in Kansas City, Kan. After suffering a minor stroke in 2013, Diebold sought non-driving work, as allowed by the company when drivers are temporarily unable to drive, whether for medical or nonmedical reasons, such as convictions for driving while intoxicated. But under UPS policy, later formalized in a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between UPS Freight and the union, drivers with disabilities like Mr. Diebold who were reassigned to non-driving work for medical reasons were paid 10% less than drivers who were reassigned for non-medical reasons.

Considering the issue of UPS Freight’s policy, Chief Judge Julie A. Robinson agreed with the EEOC and ruled the policy violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because it “(1) limit[s], segregat[es], or classif[ies] drivers because of disability adversely affecting the opportunities or status of disabled drivers and (2) us[es] standards, criteria, or methods of administration that have the effect of discrimination on the basis of disability.” UPS Freight also violated the law “by participating in a contractual relationship with the [union] that expressly discriminates against medically disabled UPS Freight drivers.” In addition to declaring that the policy and union contract violated the law, the court issued an injunction order “permanently [preventing UPS Freight] from discriminating on the basis of disability in violation of [the ADA and preventing] UPS Freight and the [union] from negotiating and ratifying terms of the next collective bargaining agreement which would discriminate on the basis of disability in violation [of the ADA].”

Andrea G. Baran, EEOC’s regional attorney in the St. Louis District Office, said, “The ADA is a powerful legal tool to protect workers from unlawful discrimination based on disability, and the EEOC will vigorously challenge such discriminatory policies and practices. It is also important that the Court ruled UPS Freight’s claim of simply following the terms of its union contract is no defense to violating the law.”

“We are very pleased the Court recognized the gravity of UPS Freight’s illegal policy and granted our injunction,” said Grant R. Doty, an EEOC senior trial attorney in St. Louis. “This will have an immediate impact on thousands of UPS Freight’s drivers nationwide who are subject to the policy and union contract.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and a portion of southern Illinois.

$135K Settlement in ADA Lawsuit Alleging Brothers Fired Because of Genetic Disorder

Employers’ fears that their insurance costs will rise if they keep workers with certain illnesses on the payroll is no justification for discrimination.

A Beaumont manufacturing company has agreed to pay $135,000 and to provide other significant relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced July 26.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Signature Industrial Services, LLC, violated federal law by firing three laborers – all of whom were brothers – because of a blood disorder that runs in their family.

The EEOC said Drew West and Anthony West had been working at the Exxon/Mobil refinery in Beaumont, Texas, when Signature Industrial Services (SIS) took over a contract to perform mechanical services at the plant. A third West brother, Raymond, began working there around January 2013. All of them have Hemophilia A, a blood disorder that does not impede their performing their jobs, but which requires expensive medicine for treatment should they sustain an on-the-job scrape or injury that causes bleeding.

EEOC’s suit said SIS’s top management instructed lower-level managers to fire the Wests once they learned how SIS’s insurance costs could spike by having them on the payroll. Because the West brothers had an excellent work history, the project manager initially refused to fire them, but after he stopped working at the plant, the West brothers’ direct supervisor was ordered to fire them. On July 3, 2013, all three West brothers were advised they were being laid off.

The EEOC said although SIS claimed the layoffs were due to a “reduction in force,” no workers other than the West brothers were laid off on July 3, and they were fired because of their disability.

That alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division (EEOC v.  Signature Industrial Services, LLC Civil Action No. 1:18cv70) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the terms of a two-year consent decree settling the case, Signature will pay $135,000 in monetary relief and has agreed to other relief in resolving this matter.

Houston District Office Regional Attorney Rudy Sustaita said, “We are pleased to have reached what we believe to be a fair resolution, and are confident Signature is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to workers, regardless of their disabilities or genetic conditions.”

Employer Concedes in ADA Medical History Suit

This employer threw in the towel rather than duke it out in court over its alleged improper use of employees’ medical history to justify taking away their jobs.

Birmingham, Ala. – Zachry Industrial, Inc., formerly known as Zachry Construction Corporation, which staffs the Chevron Refinery in Pascagoula, Miss., has agreed to pay $135,000 and provide other relief to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced July 26.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Zachry violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it terminated at least four employees based on their medical history following an occupational health examination, despite the employees having adequately performed their jobs. The EEOC further alleged that Zachry violated the ADA by failing to engage in an interactive dialogue with the employees prior to termination to assess whether they could perform the essential functions of their job with or without a reasonable accommodation.

The ADA protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities or perceived disabilities when the employees can perform the essential functions of their job with or without a reasonable accommodation. The EEOC filed suit in the Southern District of Mississippi (EEOC v. Zachry Industrial, Inc., 1:18-cv-58-HSO-JCG) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to providing monetary relief, the three-year consent decree requires the company to implement an anti-discrimination policy that prohibits disability-based discrimination. The decree further requires the company to conduct annual training on the ADA. Zachry must also post an employee notice about the lawsuit and employee rights under federal anti-discrimination laws, and must provide periodic reports to the EEOC.

“The ADA prohibits employers from terminating employees who are performing their jobs based on their medical history,”said EEOC Birmingham District Director Bradley Anderson. “Once on notice of a disability, an employer must perform an individualized inquiry to determine whether a reasonable accommodation will help the employee to work.”

Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District, said, “The ADA is clear-, employers cannot blindly defer to a company physician’s opinion without first pausing to assess the objective reasonableness of the physician’s conclusions. When this happens, as in this instance, the EEOC will intercede to protect the rights of employees to work without threat of termination when they are performing their jobs.

The EEOC’s Birmingham District Office has jurisdiction over Alabama, Mississippi (all but 17 counties in the northern part of Mississippi), and the Florida Panhandle.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. The Birmingham District consists of Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle

$85K Settlement Closes EEOC ADA Suit Against Restaurant Over Harassment of Autistic Worker

Allowing harassment to go unchecked can prove costly.

Charlotte, N. Jax, LLC, which operates a Golden Corral  restaurant in Matthews, N.C., has agreed to pay $85,000 and provide other  relief to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity  Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC had charged  that Jax discriminated against an employee when it subjected  him to a hostile work environment based on both his disability (autism) and  his sex (male). The EEOC had also charged that the  employee was forced to resign because of the harassment.

According  to the EEOC’s suit, Sean Fernandez worked as a dishwasher at the Matthews  Golden Corral. Fernandez has high-functioning autism, which limits his ability  to communicate and interact with others. The EEOC alleged that, from around  March or April 2014 until January 2016, a male assistant manager created a  hostile work environment by repeatedly referring to Fernandez as “retard,”  calling him “stupid,” and using profanity. The assistant manager also asked for  oral sex from Fernandez, threatened to sexually assault him, and subjected him  to unwanted physical contact, the EEOC said. Fernandez filed a complaint with  the general and district managers, but the company failed to take effective  action to prevent and correct the hostile work environment. Fernandez resigned  his employment because he was fearful of encountering the assistant manager  again, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with  Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on  their disabilities, as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which  prohibits sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court  for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division (EEOC v. Jax,  LLC d/b/a Golden Corral, Civil Action No. 3:17-cv-535) after first attempting  to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to providing monetary  relief to Fernandez, Jax, LLC entered into a two-year consent decree requiring  the company to implement an anti-discrimination policy that prohibits  disability-based and sex-based discrimination. The decree further requires the  company to conduct annual training for its Matthews employees and managers on  the ADA and Title VII. Jax must also post an employee notice about the lawsuit  and about employee rights under federal anti-discrimination laws at its  Matthews facility, and must provide periodic reports to the EEOC.

“Employers must take appropriate action to stop employees  from harassing other employees,” said Kara G. Haden, acting regional attorney  for the EEOC’s Charlotte District. “It is particularly problematic when the  harassment is perpetrated by a supervisor. The EEOC takes the conduct and an  employer’s failure to stop it seriously, and will prosecute cases where this  kind of abuse occurs.”

$832K Settlement Closes ADA Reasonable Accommodation Suit Against Utah Grocery Chain

Employers across the country should take a lesson from this case that they must take their reasonable accommodation obligations towards disabled employees seriously.

A Salt Lake City-based grocery store chain will pay $832,500  to resolve a group of disability discrimination charges filed with the U.S.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced July 12.

The EEOC’s investigation revealed that  a qualified individual with a disability and a group of other aggrieved  individuals with medical conditions were denied reasonable accommodations to  perform their jobs. These accommodations include additional leave, working with  restrictions and reassignment. The investigation revealed a practice of  disciplining and/or firing employees because of their need for reasonable  accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

AFM’s policies and procedures  revealed a practice of denying reasonable accommodations under the ADA;  requiring employees to have no restrictions or be 100% ready to return to work;  denying leave as a reasonable accommodation; and refusing to provide  reassignment to a vacant position as required by the ADA. AFM’s practices  resulted in the termination or resignation of a group of qualified individuals  with disabilities, the EEOC found.

On July 12,  2018 Associated Fresh Market, Inc. (AFM), owned wholly by Associated Retail  Operations, Inc. (formerly known as Associated Retail Stores) agreed to pay a  total of $75,000 to an employee to resolve his disability discrimination charge. In addition, AFM agreed to pay $757,500 to other aggrieved individuals  identified by the EEOC during the investigation who were also adversely  impacted by AFM’s policies and practices due to their medical conditions.

While denying it violated the ADA,  AFM has acknowledged a need to improve in working with applicants and employees  with disabilities. In addition to monetary payments to the discrimination  victims, AFM agreed to make changes to its ADA policies and procedures and to  conduct training for its human resources team as well as for all store  directors, assistant store directors and employees.
“I  am very pleased with the resolution of this matter without having to go through  the litigation process,” said EEOC Phoenix District Director Elizabeth Cadle. “AFM  has worked closely with the EEOC to resolve these allegations and do what is  best for these individuals, their company, applicants and employees.”

The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction  for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and part of New Mexico (including  Albuquerque).